Not all dog bites are by younger dogs. Older dogs may be just as likely — or more likely — to bite children and adults as young pups. Sometimes it’s because, like younger dogs, they’re afraid, they feel like they’re protecting their person or they’re just aggressive.
However, some older dogs can be especially prone to snapping and biting. They can even lash out at their own family members or neighbors they’ve known for years. They can bite strangers who assume that they’re docile and reach out to pet them or maybe are just minding their own business.
Why do some older dogs bite?
Senior dogs – even ones that never bit when they were younger – can bite for several key reasons:
- Their senses aren’t strong: When dogs don’t see, hear and/or smell someone approaching them or realize that they’re standing nearby, they may be startled and therefore bite.
- They have dementia: Some dogs suffer from canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) as they get older. This is similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans. It can cause them not to recognize people they know or to not be themselves.
- They don’t feel well or are in discomfort: Dogs, like humans, generally get more aches, pains and medical issues as they age. They may be more prone to snap if someone tries to play with them or even pet them – particularly if they touch a spot that’s tender or painful.
None of this means that the owner of a senior dog can’t be held responsible if their dog bites someone who was not intentionally provoking them. If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite because the dog’s owner wasn’t properly supervising their dog, you may be able to seek compensation for medical costs and other expenses from their homeowners’ insurance or from the owner themselves.